Oil field housing – Options for accommodating workers in comfort
If you regularly have to send teams to oil or gas fields, accommodating them in comfort can be a challenge. Corporate housing may be the answer.
Many oil fields are in the middle of nowhere, in very rural areas. It’s unlikely there will be a hotel or motel close by.
That leaves a man camp. While fine for a short period of time, there are obvious downsides to sharing a bunkhouse with dozens of other men all at once!
So, what other options do you have?
We think corporate housing might be the answer.
What is a man camp?
A man camp is another term for bunkhouses used for workforce housing. Temporary accommodation usually made up of mobile homes, prefabs or wooden structures built for the purpose.
They will often be owned and run by the oil company or main contractor. There will be a rent to pay, but costs can often be low to reflect the basic amenities.
Despite the name, man camps aren’t just for men. Anyone can use them.
Some man camps can be positively luxurious, with extensive leisure areas, a well-appointed canteen, big screen TVs and other amenities.
Not all of them are like that though.
Pros and cons of a man camp
Man camps have pros and cons that can make or break the experience.
Pros of man camps include:
Proximity to work – There’s definitely something to be said for being close to the oil or gas field. Less time driving and less money spent on gas.
Onsite catering – Most man camps will have a canteen of some kind, which is another plus point. Fare may be basic, but there is usually plenty of it. If there isn’t an onsite kitchen, regular food deliveries keep workers fed.
Onsite entertainment – Some camps can include social spaces, a bar, games room, TV, WiFi, cinema room and other good stuff. You’ll have to share, but there should be plenty to do.
Low effort – Man camps are usually run by the oil company or main contractor so they manage everything and deduct the cost. There’s nothing for you or your team to do except pay for damages.
Cons of man camps
There are also downsides to bunkhouse living.
It can be noisy – Dozens of men sharing the same space can get noisy and rowdy at times. Even at night, people snore, walls are thin and it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
No real break from work – Even though you’re not actually working, living on site makes it difficult to completely switch off. That’s okay if you’re FIFO and are only there for a couple weeks at a time, but isn’t ideal for longer stints.
Can feel like jail – The camp owner will very likely have strict rules on what you can and cannot do. They are usually necessary, to manage a large number of men in close proximity, but it can be tough being told what to do in your off hours.
No privacy – Sure, you may have your own room but there’s always people coming and going, always something going on and no real privacy. Fall out with someone and you’re stuck with them for the length of that stint.
Hotels and motels
Another option of course is a hotel or motel. The main challenge here is finding a location close enough to the work site to make it viable.
If you’re in the middle of Texas or Louisiana, it could be hours from site, meaning a long commute to and from work each day.
Plus, there’s the cost. Even a roadside motel will soon add up over the weeks or months of the work. Plus, living within those four (usually brown) walls will get real old real fast!
Many companies default to using a hotel or motel but it’s not your only option.
Pros of hotels and motels
There are definite advantages to using a motel or hotel to accommodate workers.
More comfortable than man camps – Even a basic motel should have more creature comforts than most man camps. Climb up the hotel tiers and you could provide seriously luxurious accommodation for your team.
That essential break from work – Even if the hotel is minutes from the oil field, it’s a psychological break that can be vital. Staff can get a genuine rest and a mental break from the stresses and strains of work.
More privacy – Your own room, your own locked door, your own bathroom and your own freedom to come and go as you please. Privacy is more important to some than others, but we all need a little alone time.
Fewer rules and regulations – Every hotel has rules, but not as many as man camps. At least you can watch TV after 11 or have a beer with dinner!
Cons of hotels and motels
There are also downsides to accommodating oil and gas workers in a hotel or motel.
Expensive – Even a cheap hotel or motel will be more expensive than a man camp. The longer you stay, the more expensive it becomes. While the cost can be written off to tax, the less you spend, the more profit you make.
Limited space – While they offer more than man camps, hotels and motels are still usually a single room with a small space to sit. It isn’t ideal if you need a little more space around or need to hold meetings or work from home.
Distance to work – If you’re in a rural oil field, there will likely be a long drive to get to work. That means staff taking their own vehicle or hiring one alongside the accommodation. This is inconvenient for your team and more expensive for you.
Food (and everything else) costs extra – Man camps are usually fully inclusive, hotels are not. You’ll be nickel and dimed for everything, especially food. This can quickly work out expensive for you and your team!
There is another option for accommodating oil and gas workers. You can use corporate housing.
Corporate housing is also known as furnished rentals, short-term rentals, executive housing, corporate accommodation or corporate apartments.
Despite the name, corporate housing is used by contractors to company executives and literally everyone in-between. If you need to house people for work for 28 days or more, you can use corporate housing.
Pros of corporate housing
There are definite benefits to using corporate housing.
Closer to work – We have many furnished properties in rural areas and potentially much closer to work than a hotel or motel. They are much better able to balance the need to unwind with proximity.
Cheaper – Cost is a significant advantage of corporate housing over a hotel. Stay for 30 days or more and you could pay half the price of a comparable hotel room, for more of everything. It’s hard to argue with the numbers!
More privacy, more space – Corporate housing includes the entire apartment or house. Your team might share it between them, but everyone gets their own room and perhaps their own bathroom. Either way, staff will have their own bedroom and proper walls to keep noise out!
Everything included – Corporate housing includes everything, furniture, cookware, cutlery, crockery, linens, towels, bedding, TV, cable or satellite and some form of internet. It’s all included within the price too.
Optional extra services – Want to provide housekeeping to help keep things tidy? Want to schedule grocery deliveries to keep everyone fed? You have the option to include value-add services at a modest extra cost.
Share or not – You can assign every team member their own apartment or have them share. Anything is possible and you can pick and choose depending on who you’re housing.
Cons of corporate housing
There are a couple of downsides to corporate housing though.
More expensive than man camps – There is a price premium to be paid for corporate housing. It’s far cheaper than a hotel but is more expensive than a man camp.
Not as close to work – Corporate housing is the middle ground of accommodation. It is usually closer to oil and gas fields than a hotel but not as close as a man camp. That may work for or against you depending on your team.
As you can see, you have more options for workforce accommodation than just man camps and motels. If you have been switching between the two, you have been missing out.
Corporate housing offers a middle ground between the two.
More privacy, space and amenities than a man camp but far cheaper and usually higher quality than a hotel or motel. Not as close as a man camp but closer than many hotels.
Factor in what you get for your money and the fact corporate housing can be over half the price of a hotel room for stays of 30 days or more and you have every reason to try one.
Book corporate housing for your team next time and see how much happier they are. They don’t need to know how much you’re saving!